9-11 was a historic American tragedy. May we never see another.

This week, I do not believe I could write about any historic event other than the terrorism that occurred two decades ago on Sept. 11, 2001. Images of terrorist-commandeered airliners crashing into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City are seared into the memories of all but the youngest of us alive at the time. It was one of those monumental events that we can recall with precision just where we were when we heard or watched the news, and the emotions we felt.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
Alene and Graham Landau Archivist Chair

Nearly 3,000 Americans died from this terrorism. Moreover, when considering the exposure of so many people to the resulting toxic storm of debris, still more deaths related to 9-11 are occurring today; among survivors of the initial devastation and among first responders who selflessly went into the fray. 

The impact upon Metro Detroiters and Michiganders was profound. One only needs to read the September and October 2001 issues of the JN in the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History to know that this is not an overstatement. Begin with the thoughtful essays by JN Editor Robert Sklar: “Answering the Madness” (Sept. 14, 2001) and “Rallying Together” (Sept. 21, 2001). Or read “Local Reaction” (Sept. 14, 2001), which presents the feelings of local Jewish Detroiters including reactions from young Jews like 11th-grader Adam Horowitz who said he cried when he saw the World Trade Center towers collapse: “I realize how fortunate we are to be safe here [in Detroit].” Ilana Goldberg, also in the 11th grade, said, “This was just shocking for our generation.” Indeed, it was.

William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History

Jewish Detroiters soon rallied. For example, “Lending Helping Hands” by Ronelle Grier discusses local area professionals who rushed to New York City. Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard and a team of deputies did so; their pilot was Stuart Rich. Social worker Kay Tulupman helped survivors cope with the trauma. Adam Gottlieb, Richard Lavine and Alan Jacobson were among the emergency workers who answered the call for help. These are just a few of the many that made the trip to NYC.

From 2001
William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History

Other reports note the funds raised for the victims by the community. Advertisements in the JN show special events were held and businesses donated profits. Danny Raskin wrote about donations from kosher caterer Jeffrey Rosenberg, the MarioMax Salon and the Kosher Chinese All-You-Can Eat Dinner at Adat Shalom, among others. He concluded: “How very proud we all are of these and so many others in coming forth in the recent tragedies is far, far beyond any word” (Oct. 5, 2001).

From 2001
William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History

One of the most interesting stories is “Mission of Emotion” (Sept. 21, 2001) by JN Staff writer Harry Kirsbaum, who was on assignment in Israel with a group of 81 Detroiters on a United Jewish Communities Mission. When the twin towers fell, all flights to the U.S. were canceled, and the group was temporarily stranded. They watched the event unfold with their Israeli hosts. Senior Advisor to the Board of the Detroit Jewish News Foundation, Mark Davidoff, who was on the mission, said of the Israelis and Detroiters: “You could see how the group was coalescing around our own tragedy.” You can read their remembrances in today’s JN on page 14.

9-11 was a historic American tragedy. May we never see another. 

Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.

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